Co-Parenting Tips for the Holidays
If you need a few co-parenting tips for the holidays, you’ve come to the right place. While the holidays are the most exciting time of the year for kids, they can spell anxiety and stress for divorced and separated parents. With the holidays fast approaching, parents are concerned about their parenting plans amidst the current covid-19 pandemic.
Co-parenting is challenging enough on its own. Co-parenting during this global health crisis can be downright difficult, especially for co-parents who aren’t on the same page regarding risks and safety precautions. Trying to agree on visitation schedules and pandemic protocol has left many families exhausted and depressed.
Though this holiday season is bound to cause some stress, it doesn’t have to cause as much stress as you might think. There are helpful steps you can take to proactively set the stage for a (relatively) peaceful and amicable co-parenting experience. We’ve put together seven co-parenting tips for the holidays and COVID-19 to help you make the best of this holiday season with your kids.
● Accept That Things Are Different
To help you find a sense of internal peace this holiday season, you can start by accepting that things will be different this year. The covid-19 pandemic has triggered unexpected changes. Your kids may act out, and you may feel anxious, sad or even angry as you try to navigate through the pandemic, manage your stress, and live peacefully. As you learn to deal with these changes, accept that these are unusual circumstances and we need to pivot to manage this new version.
Here are a couple of ideas on how you can lean into the differences this year:
- Let go of the rigidity of holiday traditions. Sure, you might always host a family dinner on Christmas Eve. How about using this year to try a new tradition that’s easier and more accommodating in the midst of the pandemic?
- Practice daily meditation to help you stay grounded and connect with your inner peacemaker. The holidays are stressful enough – add in a pandemic and co-parenting challenges, and they can be downright unpleasant. By working on your own inner state of mind, you can
● Communicate In Advance
This may be one of the most important Co-Parenting Tips for the Holidays. Good communication is the best way to avoid undesired outcomes. Many of you are worried about your kids attending large family gatherings. Create rules now before you get caught up in difficult situations. Speak with your ex about what you are planning and listen to theirs. Build a plan for the holidays based on what is healthy and safe for the kids.
Devising a plan and communicating with the other parent in advance will foster consistency for your kids and minimize conflict. Communication must be open and clear to encourage harmony especially during this holiday season where typical holiday traditions may not take place because of guidelines. Also, creating a schedule in advance and sharing it with everyone involved will help create a smoother and less stressful holiday season. It is best to get help from a parent coordinator if there is increased dispute during the holidays. A third party can help foster productive dialogues.
● Be Flexible
Don’t expect everything to be “fair” when co-parenting during this holiday season. Just like your co-parent, you might be feeling frustrating that your typical holiday plans have been thwarted this year because of the pandemic. Though you might not be able to spend as much time with the kids as you’re used to because of restrictions, try to roll with reality. Whatever time you do get to spend with your kids, do your best to make the most of it.
It’s understandably frustrating if time with the kids isn’t split equally this holiday season. But, it’s important to maintain peace with the co-parent for the sake of your kids. Choosing to make compromises where needed can make a difference to ease tension. If you’re already seeking co-parenting tips for the holidays, this means you’re already showing some open mindedness and flexibility.
● Set A Boundary
Everyone’s talking about their “Covid bubble” these days and you and the co-parent may not be in agreement regarding who your kids spend time with. It can be very helpful to proactively set a boundary in regards to this. Create a list of people with whom you feel your children can have contact during the pandemic. This will help you alleviate anxiety and make room for enjoying the holiday with peace of mind. Share this with your ex and ask for the same. This tip is especially significant where you may have elderly parents you plan on visiting during the holidays.
● Spend Quality Time With Your Kids
Whenever you get to spend time with your kids, stay as present as much as you can. You might have to forgo some of your favorite holiday activities, like visiting friends, meeting Santa, and going to the holiday carnival. Try not to let that get you down. In fact, your kids will take their cue from you. If you’re sulky and disappointed, they’ll be sulky and disappointed.
Do what you can to keep up the holiday cheer this year, even if you’re bummed to miss out on holiday traditions. Interact with your kids, play board games together, build a snowman, go for a walk, and lean into new ways to stay engaged and create happy memories regardless of the situation. You can still look back at the quality time you had with your children as fun and joyous.
● Keep Your Kids Healthy
It’s easy to lose sight of healthy habits during a normal holiday season. Parents (especially divorced parents) are tempted to overindulge their kids during the holidays… because why not?Do what you can to help your children maintain their health. This can include some obvious things like getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and lowering their stress levels. This also includes some not-so-obvious things like continuing to set limits with things like the internet, TV, and electronic devices (even when you don’t want to). Kids thrive when they have structure and consistency. Be sure to manage their expectations during your time together and stick with the boundaries you set. Being inconsistent in rule enforcement is a surefire way to stir up a tantrum.
● Take Care of Yourself
It is not uncommon for co-parents to feel overwhelmed during the holidays. As you go through the season, be sure to take time for yourself. Your physical and emotional state of mind is vital not just for your happiness, but for your kids’ happiness, too. Don’t forget to keep up your own self-care habits, like getting enough sleep, eating regularly, practicing moderation, and getting regular exercise. These small but mighty habits can mean the difference between a season of frustration and a season of cheer for you.
The holidays can be an enjoyable time of the year for everyone, including co-parents. Learn to accommodate each other, plan together, and adjust as things change. As long as you agree, you can adjust your plans. When you put effort into creating social accord, you will surely create happy and healthy holiday memories for you and your kids during this crisis.
While these co-parenting tips for the holidays should get you on the right track, sometimes we all need a little more help. Make sure to reach out to friends and family, and don’t be afraid to seek professional help by contacting a therapist. Therapy can do wonders for relatinoships and your own mental health. We are here to help you and your family have the best holiday season and life going forward. For more mental health advice, visit our blog. We also offer teletherapy and online video counseling.